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Letters from Downunder

The gypsy’s tent

Submitted by Lindsay
Melbourne Australia!

Among all forms of mistakes, prophecy is the most gratuitous.
George Eliot, 1871

(6/2016) Except at fairgrounds, crystal balls are out of fashion. So are such things as auguries, divinations and fortunetelling. This is a real pity, because such things are far more accurate than those of the pundits who read political entrails. Rulers of old would not move unless the soothsayer had done his stuff, and if say a flight of starlings went the wrong way the journey was cancelled. This had the advantage of always being hard to prove incorrect, and created horror stories about what happens when the prophecy was ignored.

Take big Julie, brilliant strategist, egomaniac and strongman. I bet he is still ruing the Rubicon, but he is not alone in letting pride get in the way of heed. When you are successful in some things it’s all too easy to quarantine caution in other possible ventures, especially when those expert pundits are waving wands, playing into your self esteem. And it’s not just leaders, politicians or proprietors who do it. We all do it to some extent, because we are confident in our prejudices, which is another name for received wisdom.

Of all the gypsies in the world, the ones that inhabit the tents of the white house and the dens of the press galleries have forgotten the basics and ignored the signs. They have been watching the flights of eagles and ignoring the slithering of snakes, although it appears that some also use the lunch room menu which is so nonrandom as to be out of the loop. Real wizards like random, but their clients like certainty. So that is want they get, on paper at least. Hence Trump is a snake, Clinton a condor, Cruz a sparrow hawk, and poor Bernie a swan. Bets were taken as to when Donald and other hopefuls would fall off their perch, and now that there are enough feather pillows to go around the snake has become the new hero, contrary to the Bible’s injunctions and the pundit’s prognostications.

They forgot history, they ignored the lessons of the French revolution; when citizens are treated as dirt they come up with guillotines, and that is exactly Mr. Donald Trump is. The Washington Post reports that all sections of the economy are positive about the future, which shows just how out of touch they are. In fact the opposite is true, and when all seems lost you turn to the one person who offers a modicum of hope. The German’s did it in 1933 after Versailles, and on the face of it there are similarities to the present. Hitler’s idea was to make Germany great again, put it on the pedestal of manufacturing supremacy, and stop the Aryan race being polluted. Both are good at oratory, never mind the facts, neither will ever be forgotten. Mr. Trump, of course, has no plans to invade or destroy other ethnic groups, not even Mexicans.

And so Americans have turned Donald into Trumps. He’s not establishment, has little grasp of diplomacy, ignorant of the layers of secrecy and subterfuge that actually run a nation these days, and is a bit green, a bit anti big bank, a bit anti Israel, so he fits the bill perfectly . They don’t care whether he’d make a good president or not, just that he says he will give them back the things that the top 2% have taken away. They seem to believe him. Why not? No one else has proffered anything like it, Hillary seems intent on fighting anything within range, Bernie might be best at saving the planet, but they need saving now. And he’s irreverent, a well learned clown where insult is complimentary - and he’s different. Not Hollywood or Broadway, but in keeping with right wing essentials, he’s a showman.

Most of you cannot stand him, I believe, as you see a wider picture, a future that’s longer than ten years, and some of you at least have ideas that may bring far faster results. When the machine is broken, as your government has become, you can either buy another new one – a very expensive and unsatisfactory one - or modify the one you have. Self help groups, an American specialty, have sprung up to quietly take control over the things a real legislature would have in place already. It’s impossible to say if this will work for long, as the establishment clings onto its supposed responsibilities, but one has to admire the DIY attitude. Someone must have read ‘Experiments in Democracy’.

Mr. Trump is to the middle class what Presidents Reagan and GW Bush were to the rich. He’s also a bit left of centre, (so I’m told) surely a novelty emerging from the ashes of the McCarthy era, and one that has been sorely missed for 50 years - if you care about your fellow man. Heavens, he may even support real action on climate. Would Mr. Trump make a good president? No, he would not – but then you haven’t had one for quite a while, (apart from King Canute, aka Barak Obama, valiantly commanding the torrent of right waves to subside) and you, like us, have become inured to ineptitude, and may no longer be able to tell the difference.

Is anyone prepared to get out the crystal ball, cross a gypsy’s palm with silver, and discover the future? I threw mine away years ago, because one thing stays constant: No matter the polish, politicians are far less shiny, less astute than they think they are - which is why you and I don’t go in for it. They also take pundits seriously because they reckon they need all the help they can get, so why don’t we set up a gypsy tent and do it for them? It’s only the most difficult job in the world.

Lindsay, still looking for my book of spells.

Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker